If you’re someone who has decided that you’ve got what it takes to be an entrepreneur and you don’t want to start from scratch, buying into a home-based or other business opportunity, franchise, distributorship or licensee opportunity is a great option. However, finding the one that is right for you can be a challenge. There are just so many to choose from. So how do you hone in on the ones that warrant further scrutiny and consideration on your part?
Here are ten quick tips for narrowing the field and choosing wisely:
1) Look for a track record―The length of time that a company has been in business tells you an awful lot. First, there’s a history of success or even failure that you can learn from. Second, brand recognition and the reputation that goes along with it can be invaluable. Third, the longer a company has been around, the more likely it is you can verify profitability and overall success within its ranks (and whether those successes have been short- or long-term in nature), giving you a better sense of the calculated risk you would be taking by coming aboard. This is all not to say that a newer company isn’t worth a gamble, but you better be sure to kick your due diligence up a serious notch before you buy what they’re selling.
2) Verify viability―There are a lot of suspect “get rich quick” schemes out there. If someone tells you that you can become very wealthy virtually overnight while making very little effort, be careful. There are no free lunches when it comes to making money. If it was that simple, we’d all be millionaires. Make sure the opportunity you are considering offers a real product or service for sale. If your ability to make money resides fully on your ability to recruit others just like you, that’s a scheme and you need to steer clear.
3) Mind your marketability―You can be offering the greatest product or service out there and have no demand for it simply because you didn’t do your homework. You have to know who your competition is in your marketplace. You have to know if there is any demand for your products or services. Who wants them? Who needs them? You have to know how what you’re offering is different or superior, whether it’s with regard to quality, features, cost or some combination thereof. If what you’re selling is truly unique, then great. That’s your niche. If it’s not, and very little is these days, then you need to know how saturated your marketplace is before you get into something that’s just not going to fly…and that also applies to online!
4) Look for a reasonable profitability timeline―The rule of thumb when starting a new business is that it can take a full six months to a year for any profits to start kicking in. Not only do you have to be prepared financially for this inevitability, you need to look for opportunities that are known to or you feel confident will generate profits sooner rather than later. Of course, if you’re starting out part-time, easing in and not quitting your day job―which by the way is a really smart way to go at first―then this becomes less of an issue.
5) Seek out training and ongoing support―The most successful and reputable opportunities offer comprehensive training and ongoing support to their purchasers and/or affiliated members. You’re looking for a company you can trust, that is recognized for its integrity. And all of that starts at the top. Do your homework on who is at the helm of any company you are thinking of affiliating yourself with or buying from. Who are its leaders? How did they get to be in business? What is their history? When did they get started? Why should you trust them to do right by you? And the list goes on and on…
6) Love what you do―Entrepreneurs who have a passion for what they do are more successful than those who don’t. That’s a fact. So if you don’t like dogs, owning a pet-services business is not for you―no matter how successful that business opportunity or franchise has been for others. If you hate it, you will never be among them. Furthermore, you need to take careful stock of your current knowledge, skills and abilities and how they will apply to the businesses you find most interesting. Having what it takes in these three key areas and/or feeling confident you can develop what is required of you will increase the likelihood that you will be happy doing what you are doing.
7) Avoid the newest fad or craze―Unless you know you’re looking for a business with a very short shelf-life you need to stay away from companies that jump onboard with the newest fad or trend, especially if it seems fleeting.
8) Be aware of your where and how―Where and how you run your business have great implications for your lifestyle, your wallet and your overall potential success. Does the business you are interested in require a storefront? Can you do business online in-part or entirely? Will you work from home, and is the business model you are exploring an ideal home-based option? Does the business require you to store inventory, buy a business vehicle, or operate and store heavy machinery or materials. If so, you may have to consider everything from creating additional storage space to the covenants of the community in which you live. Many residential communities ban work vehicles and prohibit business-related activities from taking place in or on residential property, so do your homework before you have a problem!
9) Have your eyes open when it comes to what it takes―Owning a business is easy…on paper. Making it profitable is all about hard work. Don’t kid yourself. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart or the risk averse. If that about sums up your personality, find a job working for someone else.
10) Weigh your risk carefully and minimize it the best you can―Some opportunities require very little money up front to get started, meaning the relative risk should you fail is significantly less. Other opportunities can be quite pricey on the front end. It’s important that you clearly know why you want to own your own business in the first place. Do you want to make some quick pocket change to augment your current income? Or do you want to create a long-term business in an industry that can offer you a true career path? How much do you want to or can you invest at start-up, and what are you risking in return exactly? Do you have a clear and comprehensive business plan? If you don’t, you need one because, as the old saying goes: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail! And that’s just too risky.